It’s been quite some time since I have watched a new Star Trek series. Any Star Trek fan can relate. But once I got over the new special effects, the over use of the Klingon language, and the fact that the series has followed almost entirely a single person instead of a crew or ship… I began to realize something. The writers of Star Trek Discovery must’ve been incredible fans of Pike’s Enterprise and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
After a while, especially as the second season emerged with Discovery (and now the third) there were tons of moments where I felt like I was being thrown back into an episode of DS9. “Starship Down”–the unexploded torpedo, “Call to Arms”–Sisko sets all station computers to self-destruct consoles, “Mirror Universe”–an alternate more chaotic universe, and “Civil Defense”–the ore processing center and it’s computer lockout.
But beyond parallels, it also shows us how far the Federation actually came, and what incredible things could be achieved with advances in technology, and a group of the best minds. Though the Discovery was quite an advanced ship for it’s time, only a couple people except for Michael Burnham were consistently displayed as truly brilliant to begin with. The crew appeared to grow into their brilliance, but still, many times Michael ends up saving the ship in ways that perhaps could’ve been delegated to another character. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still awesome. But perhaps that’s where part of the hang up lie with past Trek fans. Like the live action Resident Evil movies with the character Alice, Discovery suffers from a classic case of “lone hero syndrome.”
You see, DS9 wasn’t just about Sisko, O’brien, Odo, Dax or Kira. In fact, neither was The Next Generation or the Original Series either. Sure, all the characters have a huge part to play, but the series wasn’t just about any single one of them. DS9 had an advantage that no other series ever had. It was the one series that didn’t boldly go exploring the vast expanse of universe. Not really. The universe explored DS9. The station was a stationary ship, an outpost, intergalactic trade hub, strategic rook, and one of the biggest, meanest pieces of space hardware the Federation has ever gotten their hands on. It’s a space dock with teeth. And with it, are some of the most brilliant and hearty officers that have ever graced any series of Star Trek ever. A captain who became a master battle tactician and was seen as a link to Bajor’s gods, a doctor who was genetically enhanced, a trill that had lifetimes of experience to draw from, a Klingon officer and a chief engineer who both hail from a past under Picard’s command, a rebel resistance fighter, and a security officer who can turn into anyone or anything at will. Perhaps DS9 kept in mind one thing which Discovery should take a leaf from. The more brilliant the people, the more difficult the challenge.
That isn’t to say that the Discovery hasn’t had challenges. In fact they have been thrown into an alternate universe, dipped into half universes, traveled through time… Multiple times, and been caught in a time loop even (which crew hasn’t? Remember Voyager: “Year of Hell?”). That’s not even mentioning the identity issues that seem to be prominent with several members of the crew. But things have gotten so abstract and emotion driven at points, maybe we just long for a good old one episode away-mission-gone-wrong with less drama and more survival. And in the third season of Discovery we get a little of this.
Still, the new Star Trek: Discovery has a kind of appeal. New ideas and concepts, like the spore drive. It’s shiny and action packed. It reminds us that old ideas can be renewed and dusted off for new audiences in new ways. All we have to do is hold on and keep and open-mind. To allow ourselves to not stay stagnant, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.